At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys understand that injuries sustained in bus accidents are often more severe than those caused by other vehicular accidents. A lack of on-board safety measures, such as seatbelts, can put riders at risk for serious injuries. In some cases, passengers who are injured aboard a bus may be entitled to financial compensation for losses resulting from an accident. Unfortunately, the process for recovering compensation after a bus accident can be difficult. In many cases, buses are owned and operated by the government. Claims against Florida’s municipalities are often subject to stricter guidelines, including shorter time limits for taking legal action, and can present complications for attorneys who are not familiar with the intricacies of the claims process. At our Orlando law firm, our attorneys have handled bus accident cases, against both private third parties and the government, and have a track record of success in recovering full compensation for our clients.
If you have been injured in a bus accident, either as a passenger on board or as a third party, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. Our Orlando bus accident attorneys are available to review your claim at no cost or obligation to you. To learn more, please fill out our case review form today.
How Can An Orlando Bus Accident Attorney Help Me?
Filing a bus accident lawsuit can be a complex process, as there are a number of entities who may be liable for the crash. If a third party driver struck the bus or caused the accident, your attorney may be able to help you recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver or their insurance company; however, if the bus driver caused the crash, the process may not be as straightforward. If the bus is owned and operated by the government, your attorney will first attempt to negotiate a settlement with the government’s insurance company. If your claim is denied, you may be required to file a claim against the government itself. It is imperative to retain an attorney who has experience in these types of lawsuits to help ensure you receive full compensation for your losses. There are strict rules and deadlines that must be followed to collect compensation in Florida, and without the assistance of an attorney, you may lose your chance to recover damages.
At Morgan & Morgan, our Orlando attorneys have experience handling third party personal injury cases, negotiating with or litigating against insurance companies, and filing claims against the government. Additionally, we have access to experts, including medical experts, accident scene recreationists, and automotive safety experts, at the top of their respective fields. In building a claim, we will:
- Review accident and police reports;
- Interview witnesses and other passengers;
- Photograph the scene of the accident, as well as injuries you sustained;
- Analyze medical reports;
- Recreate accident scenes and scenarios with experts; and
- Handle correspondence from the opposing party and their respective insurance companies.
Bus Accident Lawsuits and Liability
Most bus accident lawsuits will be based on negligence, or another’s failure to exercise a reasonable standard of care which, in turn, caused injury to another. Bus drivers are held to a higher standard of care than other motorists, which may ease the burden of proving negligence. The initial investigation by your attorney will help to prove that the other party acted negligently, failed to follow traffic laws, or failed to pay attention to their surroundings. To prevail in a negligence lawsuit, the injured must show the defendant did not exercise the appropriate standard of care; this breach caused the accident; and the accident caused the victim’s injuries.
If a defect in the bus contributed to the accident, the victim may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer. In some instances, the manufacturer will be liable, regardless of negligence, for injuries sustained as a result of faulty design, manufacturing, or labeling. In other situations, the plaintiff must prove that the defect occurred during the manufacturing process and contributed to their injury. In most cases, expert testimony and analysis of the bus and maintenance records may be required to determine when the defect manifested. If the defect manifested in the manufacturing process, the company may be liable. Successful suits will require the plaintiff to show:
- The defective bus or part was “unreasonably dangerous”;
- The bus was being operated as intended;
- The bus’ performance had not changed since its initial purchase.
Some product liability claims against manufacturers have been based on defective tires, brakes, seats, windows, accelerators, and defective fuel systems.
If you have lost a loved one in a bus accident, you may have legal recourse to recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Our attorneys understand that money cannot bring your loved one back; however, it may be able to offset financial difficulties you may face as a result of your loved one’s death. In a wrongful death lawsuit, your claim will, in most cases, proceed under the theory of negligence or product liability. In some instances, where wanton disregard for human life or willful and malicious behavior contributed to the death, punitive damages may be pursued to punish the offender and prevent similar behavior.
Potential Liable Parties
- Bus driver;
- Owner of the bus, including Florida state, other government entities and private companies;
- Company overseeing maintenance of the bus;
- Manufacturer of the bus or any part of the bus;
- The Florida municipality in which the accident occurred; or a
- Negligent third party.
Florida State Government Liability Limitations
If the bus was owned, operated, or maintained by the government, there may be a limit on the amount of compensation you will be able to recover. Sovereign immunity protects the government from liability, which can completely bar recovery in some cases. Florida, however, has waived sovereign immunity in certain circumstances and opened itself to liability—up to a certain amount. For claims up to $200,000,Florida will be liable as would any other party; however, sovereign immunity is not waived for claims surpassing this amount. If the damages you’re seeking exceed $200,000, your claim may have to name multiple defendants.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Buses are often thought to be a safe mode of transportation for residents of and visitors to Orlando. As common carriers, bus drivers owe a heightened duty of care to their passengers. Additionally, buses owe a duty of care to other vehicles on the road. When a bus driver breaches this duty, and an accident occurs, they may be liable for any resulting damages. Some causes of Florida bus accidents which may indicate negligence on part of the driver or their employer may include:
- Fatigued bus drivers;
- Drivers operating under the influence;
- Distracted drivers;
- Inadequately trained bus drivers;
- Failure to follow traffic regulations;
- Overloaded buses; and
- Poor bus maintenance.
In showing that a bus driver or third party was negligent, the injured must prove the driver had a duty of care to its passengers or other vehicles on the road; an action or failure to act resulted in a breach of this duty; an injury was suffered; and the breach was the cause of the injury.
School Bus Accidents
School buses carrying children are common carriers which owe a heightened duty of care to protecting their passengers. Children have a special status in the eyes of the law and courts have recognized their need for extra protection. Bus drivers must drive and operate their vehicles with extreme caution and strictly follow rules and regulations enacted for the protection of the children. Liability typically applies while children are on board the bus, but can extend under certain circumstances where the driver still has a duty to ensure the safety of the children.
School entities, school bus owners, and school bus drivers may be held liable for injuries a student sustains if the driver fails to:
- Operate the bus with due care;
- Activate safety measures, including flashing red lights and stop sign, while students board and leave the bus;
- Verify traffic has stopped before permitting a child to exit the bus; and
- Monitor a child’s safe crossing of a street.
Liability will depend on the specific statutory duties in place for school buses and drivers in the district in which the accident occurred. Additionally, since Personal Injury Insurance (PIP) carried by a parent may cover some of the costs resulting from the school bus accident injury to their child, the claims process can become complicated and may require the assistance of an Orlando bus accident lawyer.
Common Bus Accident Injuries
The lack of safety precautions for passengers aboard buses significantly increases the chance of injury or death, should an accident occur. Injuries that may result from a bus accident include:
- Brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Paralysis; or
What Compensation Can Be Recovered?
During negotiations or litigation against an insurance company, the state of Florida, other government entities, or negligent party, a bus accident victim may be able to recover compensation for the following:
Past and Future Medical Expenses: This may include fees for emergency room visits, hospital care, surgery, assistive devices and appointments with necessary medical professionals.
Lost Wages: Injured bus accident victims may be able to recover compensation for wages they would have earned had the accident not occurred. If the injured victim was unemployed at the time of the accident, they may be awarded lost wages if they can demonstrate earning potential during this time period.
Pain and Suffering: This includes compensation for the physical pain suffered as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. Factors including the nature of the injury, the extent of the pain, and the length of time the victim is expected to suffer are considered when awarding these damages.
Mental Anguish: Victims may also be awarded for emotional suffering incurred as a result of the accident. This can compensate for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, worry, grief and other forms of emotional distress endured.
It is important to note that parents may not be able to recover damages for mental anguish as a result of an injury their child sustains in a school bus accident; there are only certain instances in which recovery is possible.
Loss of Consortium: The uninjured spouse of a bus accident victim accident may be able to recover damages for loss of marital benefits, sexual relations, affection and comfort.
If you were a passenger on a bus involved in an accident, or a third party injured in a bus accident, you may have legal recourse. To learn more about how our Orlando bus accident attorneys may be able to help you, please fill out our free case review form today.